North Korea says nuclear war inevitable because of military drills by US and South Korea
A nuclear war on the Korean Peninsula is inevitable because of threatening military drills by South Korea and the United States, North Korea’s foreign ministry said in comments carried by the official Korean Central News Agency late on Wednesday.
The foreign ministry said the military exercises involving hundreds of South Korean and US warplanes made the outbreak of war an “established fact.” It also blamed high-ranking US officials, including CIA Director Mike Pompeo, for “bellicose remarks.”
Two US B-1B heavy bombers joined large-scale combat drills over South Korea on Thursday.
The annual US-South Korean “Vigilant Ace” exercises feature 230 aircraft, including some of the most advanced US stealth warplanes, and come a week after North Korea tested its most powerful intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) to date, which it says can reach all of the United States.
North Korea’s foreign ministry blamed the drills and “confrontational warmongering” by US officials for making war inevitable.
“The remaining question now is: when will the war break out?” it said in a statement. “We do not wish for a war but shall not hide from it.”
China, North Korea’s neighbour and lone major ally, again urged calm and said war was not the answer, while Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said North Korea wanted direct talks with the United States to seek guarantees on its security, something Moscow was ready to facilitate.
“We hope all relevant parties can maintain calm and restraint and take steps to alleviate tensions and not provoke each other,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said.
Pompeo said on Saturday that US intelligence agencies believe North Korean leader Kim Jong-un does not have a good idea about how tenuous his situation is domestically and internationally as he pushes ahead with North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme.
North Korea said “should the US miscalculate our patience and light the fuse for a nuclear war, we will surely make the US dearly pay the consequences with our mighty nuclear force which we have consistently strengthened.”
US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said direct talks with North Korea were “not on the table until they are willing to denuclearise.”
“It is something that Russia says it agrees with; it is something China has said it agrees with, and many other nations around the world as well,” she told a regular briefing.
Nauert said North Korea was “not showing any interest in sitting down and having any kind of serious conversations when they continue to fire off ballistic missiles.”
The comments were consistent with the tone of Pyongyang’s previous confrontational remarks and statements condemning Washington and Seoul.
South Korea’s military said the drills – a Guam-based bomber simulated land strikes at a field near South Korea’s eastern coast – “displayed the allies’ strong intent and ability to punish North Korea when threatened by nuclear weapons and missiles.”
Flyovers have become an increasingly familiar show of force to North Korea, which after three intercontinental ballistic missile tests and six nuclear tests has moved closer toward building a nuclear arsenal that could viably target the US mainland.